Hammers 1st XV winning run comes to an end

A surprisingly dry afternoon at HQ was the venue for this weekend’s fixture against Amersham & Chiltern- A rivalry that stretches back…to one pre-season fixture, but to some, a lifetime. With both sides bringing along plenty of support, it was sure to be a feisty affair- No love lost between this author and his former team, as he had been constantly reminded in the build-up.

Hammers started brightly, controlling much of the possession but struggling to break down the well-set Chiltern defence. A clearing kick from Hammersmith, let down by a lack of chase gave Chiltern’s winger to chance to sneak through a gap and side-step his way under the sticks to open the scoring, converted by centre Noah Jarvis. 0-7 to the visitors.

The next 20 minutes were fought primarily in the centre of the field with a series of lineouts and scrums for both teams- neither of whom were able to make good use of their possession. A turnover outside the Hammers 22 allowed Chiltern to move the ball wide for their centre to dive in for a score in the corner. The conversion was missed….. 12-0. Hammers struck back quickly with an aggressive kick return from debutant Josh allowing quick ball to be sent wide for Joe Carolan to scythe through the Chiltern defence, step the full back and touch down under the posts. Death, taxes and a Joe Carolan try, indeed. 12-7, Half-Time.

Hammers knew a fast start would be integral to build a comeback against a Chiltern team well-up for the fight, but unfortunately, an early scrum gave Chiltern the opportunity to execute an overlap and once again score in the corner, with the conversion missed. Chiltern 17-7.

With time ebbing away, Hammers knew they would need to throw caution to the wind in order to score some points- A turnover in midfield allowed another opportunity for Hammers to send the ball through the hands, allowing Joe to make a half break and send Tim Russell in to the corner, converted from the corner by Carolan. 17-14. With their tails up, Hammers found themselves on the Chiltern line just minutes later and with the Chiltern players offside and a penalty advantage, a floated pass from Dugdale allowed Josh Smith to step the Chiltern Winger inside out and score- A goose step The Rugby Guy would be proud of.

With the conversion missed, Hammers led Chiltern by 2 points heading in to the final 10 minutes, knowing that a bonus point was on offer, as well as a win. An opportunity at a long-range penalty was turned down, in favour of a lineout and a tantalising driving mail.  Unfortunately, the story of Hammers day – missed opportunities crossed with failed execution – was played again, with the inexplicably was then turned over- A moment that would come back to haunt Hammers as, with 2 minutes on the clock, Chiltern won a penalty on Hammers’ 10 metre line, allowing their long-range kicker to regain the lead. Despite a late turnover appearing to have regained possession for Hammers with the clock in the red, the referee awarded a penalty to Chiltern, who kicked it dead to win the game 20-19.

A tough loss for Hammers after hauling themselves back into the game, but credit to Chiltern for what surely must be their standout performance of the season. Shoutout to Rogan and Carolan for their 100th and 50th appearances respectively.

All eyes now turn to this weekend’s fixture vs Beaconsfield, with a mouth-watering prospect of a rematch in Amersham on 4th March in the back of many players minds.